Kaikoura Tourism

A Marine Wonderland:

Located on the coast of New Zealand’s South Island, hidden away from the city life’s daily hustle-bustle, lies Kaikoura, a perfect holiday destination. It is located halfway between Christchurch and Picton, on the Marlborough coast of New Zealand. Kaikoura makes for a great holiday destination for all types of vacation-goers, from beach-lovers to adventure-seekers as well those looking for a relaxing getaway. This is because Kaikoura is bestowed with a beautiful coastline as well as mighty mountain ranges. This unique land has the best of both worlds and also boasts of a thriving marine population, which happens to be more that its human populace of approximately 2,000 Kiwis. For those who like to explore local culture and tradition, they will be delighted to know that Kaikoura is home to the Ngati Kuri people of the Ngai Tahu tribe –the South Island’s largest Māori tribe. Thus, this town is marked with Māori influences, especially with respect to the food habits. Piscivores, you will fall in love with Kaikoura cuisine due to availability of fresh marine catch. In fact, the town is named after its famous seafood, crayfish, in Māori. Kai in Māori means food and Koura means crayfish. If you are one of those travellers conscious of leaving your carbon footprint, here’s some good news –Kaikoura follows the gold-standard in ecotourism.

Kaikoura not only offers you jaw dropping attractions minus the crowding, but it is also very easy on your wallet. Here are some statistics regarding Kaikoura.

Global location South Pacific
Country  New Zealand - South Island
Region Canterburry
Language English 
Dial Code +64
Population 2,150
Currency NZD
Time Zone NZST -GMT+13
Area 2,048 sq.km

Highlights of Kaikoura:

Kaikoura Canterbury

Kaikoura offers you sites and experiences, unheard of before. As you travel on one of its many boat tours, you can watch Sperm Whales launch themselves from the surface of turquoise waters and dart back into sea. A lengthy 11 km trek will reward you with a view of furry seals flip-flopping their way from and into the water at the famous Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to experiencing the wonders of Kaikoura’s marine diversity. 

However, if trekking is not your cup of tea, fret not, there are plenty of alternatives for your vacation. Visit the enchanting Ohau Waterfall, vigorously gushing down from a height of 15 m. Sun rays pierce through the water, making it a vision to behold. On days when the sun comes out to play, you will get to see colonies of seals venture into the waters! 

If you enjoy going on treks, Kaikoura offers many opportunities and provides expert local guides as well as adorable Llamas to accompany you. Capitalize on the chance to spend half a day with these highly intelligent animals as you make your ascent through the mountains.

Amidst your travels in Kaikoura, a trip to the Lavendyl Lavender Farm is a must visit for you to take picture-perfect posts for your social media account. Walk through acres of lush purple and greenfields, breathing in the mildly intoxicating fragrance of lavender. You can also sign up to check out the process of the extraction of lavender oil at the farm’s manufacturing unit. 

If you want to dip into Kaikoura’s history, the Fyffe House is a 45-minute walk from the town center and is worthwhile. As the oldest surviving building in Kaikoura, its stands as a symbol of the town’s legacy, home to artefacts, dioramas and audio tapes since the 1800s. The Kaikoura Museum is another place where you can dig into the area’s cultural, historical, artistic past. 

To have a bird’s eye view of the spectacle that is Kaikoura, go on a helicopter tour and let the beatific sight of the mountains, the land, the water, mark an unforgettable visual memory. 


Kaikoura Canterbury

Kaikoura’s natural world offers an adrenaline-filled experience for thrill-seekers! Several marine tours provide up close encounters with dolphins; all you need is a wet suit, snorkel, and a sense of adventure so you can swim with the company of myriad underwater creatures. Seal-swimming is also a popular physical activity for all nature-lovers alike. 

You can also get up close and personal with dolphins, seals and albatrosses by signing up for Kayaking tours. Many of these tours do not require prior Kayaking experience and are even suitable for families. If skilled and interested enough, you can choose to paddle the Kayak or ask the tour guide to do so as you revel in the sights of fur seals and dolphins. Moreover, unlike most water-based experiences, Kayak tours cause the least disturbance to our marine friends, which ultimately bodes well for the entire marine ecosystem that the Māori natives deeply respect. 

If water sports aren’t your scene, go on Mountain biking and Quad biking – the extremely sought-after activities to explore the mountainous terrains, filled with fields, streams and riverbeds. While the Hinau and Fyffe-Palmer walking tracks are best suited for beginner hikers, Mt Fyffe or the Kowhai-Hapuku circuit offers 1-3-day long endurance treks, better suited for experienced hikers seeking a challenge.


The diverse marine life is a prominent feature in the local cuisine. You must opt for mouth-watering seafood, of which crayfish (or lobster) reigns Kaikoura cuisine. Even though you are guaranteed a fresh plate of seafood at practically any restaurant in the city, there are a few which are a cut above the rest.

The Green Dolphin Bar & Restaurant on Avoca Street has an ever-changing seasonal menu, yet consistently delivers locally sourced produce and unforgettable views. 

Panoramic sights, with the setting sun filling the sky with shades of crimson, can be seen from the historic Pier Hotel –a pub boasting delicious crayfish and cold beers! The Whaler is yet another place with a pub atmosphere where you can indulge in generous portions of fried fish and chips and local, craft beers. 

A go-to place for the health-conscious folk is the Hislops Wholefoods Café which prides upon its fresh, organic produce and biodynamic New Zealand wines. Whereas, if you are craving for cheesy goodness, do not miss out on Black Rabbit Pizza! 

For those wanting to have fine a dining experience, Zephyr is a must visit place. And on the other end of the spectrum is Nin’s Bin – which is popular on Instagram for its beach shack and platters serving garlicy, buttery crayfish. Delivering a truly authentic taste of Kaikoura, the soul of Nin Bin’s food lies in the simplicity of its dishes and its tranquil ambience. Cooking on the beach, the eatery lives up to its promise as displayed on its social media account.

To satiate your cravings for dessert, head to Café Encounter which offers coffee and delectable pastries. A popular stop for several tour buses, Encounter’s food and beverages are enjoyable for when the bus takes a break. You can spend a leisurely evening on their sunny patio watching the waves fall upon Kaikoura’s shore. 

History and Culture: 

Legend dictates that the demigod, Maui, blessed the Kaikoura Peninsula when he brought the North Island into existence from down under. For thousands of years, Kaikoura has been home to the Māori. 

In 1828, Kaikoura’s beachfront witnessed massive bloodshed during a gory battle between the northern Ngati Toa tribe and the local Ngai Tahu tribe. Although resilient, Ngai Tahu people could not be driven away and their numbers gradually descended. European settlers colonised the area in the mid 1800’s, establishing a whaling center to support the economy. From 1930 onwards, the economy of the region began to rely on fishing and farming. Since the late 1900s, through much effort, Kaikoura has reshaped itself as a popular tourist town. 

The most recent historically significant event is the harrowing 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the South Island, wiping down several transportation routes and residential establishments. Luckily, fatality was low. Since then, Kaikoura has recovered and continues to thrive as a hot-spot tourist destination. 

Interesting Facts about Kaikoura: 


  • Kaikoura is one of the few places blessed with mountains as well as a beach front. 
  • Māori Tours is a family business owned by Maurice Manawatu, a member of the Ngati Kuri tribe who encourages authentic cultural exchanges between travelers and natives.
  • In 1828, the Kaikoura beach front served as a bloody battlefield for a war between two Māori tribes. 
  • This rather miniscule speck on the face of the planet is renowned worldwide for its whale watching and dolphin swimming opportunities! Whale Watch Kaikoura ensures a 95% success rate on spotting a whale on a tour! 
  • The Kaikoura Seafest, hosted annually on the first Saturday of every October, is a grandeur feast parading Kaikoura’s remarkable cuisine! 

Best Time to Visit in Kaikoura:

Kaikoura Canterbury

Since Whale Watching is the main attraction that draws tourists to Kaikoura, trips to the town are most worthwhile when coordinated with Whale migration periods. The winter season from May to October invites heavy traffic in the Pacific Ocean as Pilot Whales, Humpback Whales, Southern right Whales, and possibly even Blue Whales rush to their destinations. Moreover, Kaikoura is generally spared from brutal winter temperatures and offers a beautiful climate during winter. Here, temperatures range from 5-12 degrees. This season is the busiest time in Kaikoura to spot Whales. 

The Summer Season from November to April is a popular time to witness Orcas swimming in pods of 6-12 and Sperm Whales that are perennially thriving in Kaikoura’s waters. During these months, temperatures range from 12-22 degrees. Travelers are sparse in Kaikoura during this time, due to which tour expenses becomes cheaper. 

How to reach Kaikoura:

By Air: Arriving in New Zealand from any other continent in the world necessitates a painfully long airplane journey. However, the sights, the people and the food make the journey worthwhile. Auckland in the North Island and Christchurch in the South Island are New Zealand’s primary airports with connections to most major cities worldwide. Since Kaikoura is your destination, a flight to Christchurch is the most practical route. However, if you must fly to Auckland, you can easily commute to Wellington by car, train or bus and subsequently embark upon the ferry from Wellington to Picton. 

By Road:  Kaikoura is nestled halfway between Picton at the tip of the South Island and Christchurch, further South. Nelson, Picton, Christchurch and Blenheim in the South Island are all within accessibility. The following routes are accessible by car and bus:

  • From Nelson, Kaikoura is a 250km drive through:
  • The fastest route, 3 hours long - State Highway (SH) 6 to Blenheim followed by SH1 to Kaikoura.
  • The scenic route, 3.5 hours long - SH 6 to Havelock, to the Queen Charlotte Drive to Picton, to SH1 leading to Kaikoura. 
  • The slower route, 4 hours long – SH6 to St. Arnaud in Nelson Lakes National Park, to SH 63 to Blenheim, to SH1 leading to Kaikoura 
  • From Picton – arrived via the InterIslander Ferry from the North Island: 
  • SH1 leads directly to Kaikoura
  • From Christchurch, Kaikoura is a 180km or 2.5-hour long drive, heading north on SH1 

By Rail : Those who don’t want to take the roadways can opt for the famous Coastal Pacific Train to Kaikoura which allows you to have breathtaking views during the journeys. The train can be boarded from either Picton or Christchurch, as Kaikoura is equidistant from either.

Language Spoken


Currency used:

New Zealand dollar

MAR-MAY 10 to15oC
DEC-FEB 21 to 25oC
JUN-AUG 13 to 17oC
SEP-NOV 16 to 20oC

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Best Kaikoura Tourism Guide

Fill your belly at the haven of seafood in New Zealand with Kaikoura holidays. The name of the charming coastal town on the country’s South Island means “eat rock lobster” in Maori, which should be a good enough hint for you to know what to do during Kaikoura tours.

Kaikoura travel packages take tourists to the town that sits on a strip of land that lies between tall mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other. The geography of the place allows aquatic life to blossom near the coast and gives travelers choosing Kaikoura holiday packages to bask in the abundance of what the ocean has to offer. Kaikoura   is favored by vacationers because it lets them enjoy both the grandness of the mountains and the immensity of the Pacific Ocean.

Look out for the pots lying on the shore of the town during your Kaikoura tour. The pots were used by European settlers during whaling. You could choose to travel to Kaikoura on the trains from Christchurch to Picton. The journey is a fabulous experience for those making a trip to Kaikoura as the train passes mountains and beaches.

Surfing the waters off the coast of the town makes Kaikoura vacation packages even more special. There are several places in the town to eat, drink and stay.

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